|Publication number||US7864472 B1|
|Application number||US 11/788,113|
|Publication date||Jan 4, 2011|
|Filing date||Apr 19, 2007|
|Priority date||Apr 19, 2007|
|Publication number||11788113, 788113, US 7864472 B1, US 7864472B1, US-B1-7864472, US7864472 B1, US7864472B1|
|Inventors||David W. Haney, Lyle T. Bertz, Christopher J. Mateski|
|Original Assignee||Sprint Communications Company L.P.|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (5), Classifications (8), Legal Events (4)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
The present invention relates in general to a portable memory device for installing software and data files in computerized equipment such as PCs, routers, and servers, and, more specifically, to a storage device for emulating a floppy disk but providing a much greater amount of storage capacity than a conventional floppy disk.
Permanent memory in computerized equipment such as personal computers and network servers and routers typically includes fixed storage (e.g., a hard drive) and removable storage (e.g., floppy drives, CD-ROM drives, and mountable flash or zip drives). Executable program files and frequently used data are stored in fixed storage for maximum user convenience and fastest operation. One of the primary uses of removable storage is to transfer program files and data into fixed storage for use in routine operation of the computerized equipment. For example, a technician in a typical enterprise having the job of servicing many computers, routers, and/or servers within the enterprise may be required to periodically visit each piece of equipment for loading certain programs. The technician may carry floppy disks or other portable media having the programs or data stored on them in order to perform the transfers.
As computing power and memory capacities have generally increased for all computerized equipment, so have the typical file sizes for programs and data manipulated by the computerized equipment. The standard 3.5″ high density floppy disk holds 1.44 Mbytes. The majority of commonly used application programs greatly exceed the 1.44 Mbyte size, and many would require dozens or hundreds of floppy disks in order to hold them. Likewise, data files that are used by computerized equipment (e.g., routing tables in a router or address translation tables in a server) would require many floppy disks to hold them.
Software distributors have increasingly depended upon other forms of portable storage (e.g., CD-ROM drives and flash drives) or external communication (e.g., USB bus, Firewire bus, and internetworking) for transferring application programs and data to computerized equipment. Over time, computerized equipment manufacturers have increasingly included higher capacity drive interfaces, such as CD-ROM drives and flash card readers, and/or network or bus interfaces in their products. In some instances, newer product lines no longer even offer floppy disk drives. Nevertheless, many organizations have a large installed base of computerized equipment which relies on floppy drives for loading software images or data onto individual pieces of equipment. Updating the software loads of such equipment is complicated by the large number of conventional floppy disks that must be carried to each piece of equipment.
The present invention allows large program and data files to be transferred into computerized equipment through its floppy disk drive by providing a storage unit having the form factor of a floppy disk but containing a high capacity memory and an interface to emulate a floppy disk.
In one aspect of the invention, a data storage device comprises a housing having a size and shape compatible with being inserted into a floppy disk drive, wherein the floppy disk drive has a spindle and a read/write head. A data storage unit is provided within the housing for storing a plurality of floppy disk data images. A rotating hub is mounted in the housing to receive the spindle driven by the floppy disk drive. The rotating hub has a position encoder for generating a hub position signal. A transducer is mounted to the housing spanning a range of motion of the read/write head of the floppy disk drive. A head position sensor is mounted to the housing for generating a head position signal in response to a sensed location of the read/write head. A controller is provided within the housing responsive to the hub position signal and the head position signal to identify a position within a sector of a selected one of the floppy disk data images and to exchange data between the transducer and the identified position of the selected floppy disk data image in the data storage unit.
The present invention provides a portable memory device that is insertable into a conventional floppy disk drive that emulates the performance of a conventional floppy disk media from the viewpoint of the floppy disk drive while actually providing a storage capacity much greater than the 1.44 Mbyte storage of conventional floppy disk media. The physical layout for storing digital data on a floppy disk media to be emulated is shown in
Aperture 17 is located at the central axis of disk 15 to receives a motor-driven spindle of the floppy disk drive for rotating the disk at a predetermined speed. Aperture 18 is engaged by a position marker of the spindle of the floppy disk drive mechanism to provide a reference position so that any desired sector can be accessed by the drive.
The operation of a conventional floppy disk drive is shown in greater detail in
A portion of one example embodiment of the invention is shown in
The data storage unit of the present invention may preferably be double sided wherein separate read/write head position sensors are mounted on the opposing surfaces of the simulated disk. Thus, the identification for a particular sector further depends upon which of the read write heads is contacting the data storage device.
The device further includes a hub 40 for engaging the spindle of the floppy disk drive for the purpose of determining which sector the floppy disk drive is attempting to access at any particular time. A position sensor 41 such as a rotary position encoder provides a hub position signal to controller 36 for determining the current sector, and in some embodiments, also the current bit position within a sector.
The data storage device of the present invention is shown in greater detail in
A communication interface 51 (such as a USB interface, a Firewire interface, or an Ethernet connection) is provided for external communication with controller 36 and/or flash memory 50. External communication with flash memory 50 allows a remote computing device such as a laptop computer 54 to transfer floppy disk data images via a communication cable 55, interface 51, and an internal bus 52 to flash memory 50. As described in greater detail below, computing device 54 has a user interface 56 to allow user control of the content and arrangement of floppy disk data images in the partitions of flash memory 50. Furthermore, user interface 56 may be used to communicate with controller 36 to provide an alternate method for selecting one of the floppy disk data images to be presented by the output of the data storage device via magnetic transducer 35.
Housing 45 has a shutter 57 mounted thereon which is very similar to the shutter of a conventional floppy disk media in order to selectively cover or expose transducer 35 according to the insertion of device 45 into a floppy disk drive unit. A shutter position sensor 58 provides a signal to controller 56 which is indicative of the opened or closed position of shutter 57 (and consequently whether the data storage device is inserted into a floppy disk drive).
A write-protect switch 59 can be manually set in order to prevent attempted writing by the floppy disk drive to the data storage device.
Housing 45 further includes a self-contained battery 60 for powering all the electronics within the data storage device. Battery 60 may be replaceable or rechargeable. Alternatively, the electronics within device 45 may be powered by the communication interface 51 as is known in the art. Preferably, battery power may be coupled to the electronic circuits in response to shutter 57 being placed in its open position.
Controller 36 is shown in greater detail in
Controller 36 may include a wake-up circuit 63 responsive to the shutter position sensor so that power is conserved when the shutter is closed (i.e., the device is not inserted into a floppy disk drive) and so that an orderly wake-up sequence can be performed when the shutter position changes to open.
In addition to a power connection, controller 36 is connected to receive a head position signal from the head position sensor and a hub position signal from the hub position sensor. Based upon its internal programming, controller 36 utilizes the position signals to access a look-up table 64 in order to identify the current track and sector being accessed by the floppy disk drive at any particular time. Table 64 may preferably be contained in a ROM which relates the y-position of the read/write head together with the x-position of the spindle (i.e., its rotational position) to determine which sector is to be exposed to the read/write transducer. Controller 36 distinguishes between write operations and read operations and transfers data to or from the flash memory accordingly, as explained below. A driver circuit 65 may preferably be included for coupling controller 36 to the magnetic transducer in order to provide appropriate amplification and filtering of data signals.
One preferred method of operation of the invention will be described in greater detail in connection with the flowchart of
The timing to be used for exchanging data between the read/write head and the storage device of the invention can be based upon the actual detected position within each sector as the areas corresponding to each respective bit in the sector are traversed. Alternatively, timing of the data transfer can be based on detecting entry into the first bit position and then measuring an elapsed time according to which respective bits will pass by the read/write head as a result of the known, constant rotational speed of the floppy disk drive. For either alternative, a “read bit value” (e.g., a 1 or a 0) is retrieved from the selected floppy disk data image or partition being exposed by the data storage device in step 71.
Having identified the digital bit value for the current bit position in the selected image, the magnetic transducer is driven with that read bit value in step 72 for a first portion of the bit time (i.e., the time period during which the area of a real floppy disk is moving past the read/write head). The read bit value is driven on the transducer for only a portion of a bit time in order to allow a determination of whether the floppy disk drive is attempting to read from a floppy disk or write to a floppy disk. Thus, in step 73, the driving of the transducer is suspended for a predetermined delay time. The delay time is likewise much less than the full bit time. If conducting a read operation, the read/write head of the floppy disk drive does not generate a magnetic field as it does when conducting a write operation. During the predetermined delay time, a check is made in step 74 to determine whether the transducer is receiving a write bit value from the read/write head of the floppy disk drive. Since commercially available magnetic transducers can be obtained which operate at a much higher data rate than a conventional floppy disk drive, the storage unit can alternate between attempted writing and reading operations so that the magnetic transducer generates enough of a magnetic field during the driving portions during a bit time so that if the floppy disk drive is attempting to read then there is still a sufficient signal to be detected. Likewise, the transducer only needs to “listen” for a portion of the available bit time in order to reliably detect that the floppy disk drive is attempting to write data. If the check in step 74 determines that a write bit value is being received, then write bit values presented by the floppy disk drive at each successive bit position are collected in step 75 until the end of the current sector is reached. Then, the collected bit values are written to the selected image of the data storage device in step 76.
If the check for a write bit value is negative in step 74, then the transducer modulates between reading and writing modes for a sufficient duration to reliably detect whether the floppy disk drive is attempting a write operation. Thus, in step 77 the transducer is again driven with the read bit value for a further portion of the bit time. After the further portion of the bit time, driving of the transducer is once again suspended in step 78 for the predetermined delay time. A check is made in step 79 to determine whether a write bit value is received during the predetermined delay time. If so, then the write operation continues in step 75. Otherwise, a determination is made in step 80 whether sufficient checking for a write operation has been completed. In other words, it may not be necessary to continue to check for a write operation for the entire bit time of the first bit in the new sector. The determination that checking is complete could correspond to a predetermined number of executions of the predetermined delay time, for example. If not done checking then a return is made to step 77. If checking is completed, then a read operation can be assumed to be taking place, and the method continues to present the current read bit value in step 81 until the end of the current bit time. In step 82, the method presents remaining read bit values for the remaining bit times to the floppy disk drive via the transducer until all the stored bits of the current sector have been presented (i.e., until the end of the sector).
One preferred layout of the flash partitions stored in flash memory is shown in
A default partition 86 is exposed to the floppy disk drive when the image selector switches are set to “00000000”. Default partition 86 may preferably be used to store a floppy disk data image corresponding to a bootable disk, for example. A plurality of further partitions 87 corresponding to addresses 1 through N are selectable according to the corresponding address set using the image selector switches or through the USB/Firewire interface. Preferably, each partition 86 or 87 can be designated as either writable or write protected according to respective flags stored either in the partitions themselves or in management partition 85.
Via the USB/Firewire/Ethernet interface, the contents of the management partition can be viewed and manipulated via the user interface of a remote computing device such as a laptop, producing the display as shown in
The software residing in the management partition does not have to be installed on the host PC in order to execute. The contents of the management partition are always available to the host PC (e.g., laptop) and can be run directly from the data storage device.
|Cited Patent||Filing date||Publication date||Applicant||Title|
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|U.S. Classification||360/55, 710/62, 235/492|
|International Classification||G06F13/12, G06K21/06, G11B5/02|
|Cooperative Classification||G06F13/385, G06F2213/3802|
|Apr 19, 2007||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: SPRINT COMMUNICATIONS COMPANY L.P., KANSAS
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:HANEY, DAVID W.;BERTZ, LYLE T.;MATESKI, CHRISTOPHER J.;REEL/FRAME:019275/0862
Effective date: 20070410
|Aug 15, 2014||REMI||Maintenance fee reminder mailed|
|Jan 4, 2015||LAPS||Lapse for failure to pay maintenance fees|
|Feb 24, 2015||FP||Expired due to failure to pay maintenance fee|
Effective date: 20150104